Parish St Benet’s
We have found no memorial for this grave and do not know whereabouts he is buried within the parish.
John Barr (1840-1880)
John died of phthisis (TB) at Addenbrookes Hospital on 13th May 1880 and was buried in the Parish of St Benet’s (the hospital parish) on May 19th.
John was born into a well known Scottish falconry family. His father William had learnt the skill when working as a game keeper and 3 sons William, John and Robert all took up the profession. As a young man (1857 to 1865) John worked as a professional falconer for the Maharajah Duleep Singh*, visiting Italy & Syria and going on a falconry tour of India. In 1869 he travelled to Iceland and Norway to collect Gyr Falcons for the Confederate Hawks of Great Britain, a falconry club that hawked herons from horseback in Cambridgeshire. He then became head falconer for the Champagne Hawking Club in France. During the French / German war in 1870 the hawks were relocated to Elveden Hall, Suffolk, home of the Maharaja. John’s brother Robert was head falconer to the Old Hawking Club in Wilshire but he became ill and John was asked to replace him in 1872. The typical expenses for arranging a “meet” and suppling hawks was £100. Later in his life John worked as a self-employed falconer putting on displays at race courses and other late events. In 1876 he spent 2 months catching hawks in Norway for Captain Dugmore of the Old Hawking Club.
In 1879 he went to work for Mr T F Evans in Sawston, Cambridgeshire. This may have been the Thomas Frederick son of the notorious Thomas Sutton Evans* who had a large leather factory in Sawston. Mr Evans was not known for being kind to his employees and fell out with most of the worthies in the village of Sawston.
Sadly John’s death certificate shows his death had to be registered by hospital staff and his occupation was listed as unknown, which suggests he had no friends or family present at his death.
Falconers even today know who John Barr was and the part he played in the revival of falconry in the 19th century.
by Mary Naylor and Gary Wall
CFHS transcript of burial register
Falconry – Celebrated Falconers by Gerald Lascelles c1892
Thirty-five years in the New Forest By Gerald Lascelles
Falconry in Britain between 1750 and 1927: the survival, organisation and, development of the sport. By Gordon T Mellor
British Newspaper Archive – John Barr’s obituary appeared on pg 113 of The Field – The country Gentleman’s Newspaper July 17 1880
*Thomas Evans of Sawston https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol6/pp246-263